Truth is meant to be objective. But subjectivity can affect how one perceives the truth. We see this today in politics and media, where lies and half truths are widely accepted, even with lots of evidence to the contrary.
How one perceives the truth is often about perception. In one study, they looked at how an authority figure who people respected and looked up to perpetuated a lie about a common for. His followers, as a result of their respect, willingly and uncritically believed the lie.
A short time later, it was proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the authority figure had lied. He was forced to admit to his followers that he had lied.
But it didn’t matter.
Even though the authority figure himself admitted to the lie, his followers continued to believe the lie afterward. That is because even when faced with the truth, they preferred to think that the person they looked up to wouldn’t have lied to them, and that the truth that they “believed” about a rival must have been true, because the rival cannot be on the right side of a story.
Thus the lie was still effective, even when it was proven false.
People often believe whatever it is that supports their belief systems. It’s a common problem in politics, where partisanship prevents one side from accepting or respecting that their side could be wrong and the other side could be right. Or that their side may have lied to them while the other side may be telling the truth. Truth itself has then become subjective.
But it’s not limited to politics either. It can be seen in relationships, in friendships, and in families. It may be something that affects a person’s love of sports, music, or television.
Why Does This Matter?
Part of personal growth, making good decisions, and enjoying healthy relationships means being able to decipher the truth and becoming more aware of how one’s own subjective beliefs can influence our willingness to accept alternatives.
If one allows themselves to be swayed by a lie, then everything that comes afterwards as a result of that lie (including further reinforcement that the authority figure is a truth teller) is then tarnished, and the lies begin to affect your life and the lives of others in potentially harmful ways.
Knowing this, and making it a goal to think critically, however, can help you overcome that and live a life that is grounded in reality.